Rhea County, tying the ballgame at the top of the fifth, stayed knotted 8-8 with the WCHS Lady Pioneer softball team at home until Warren County’s Neva Tackett singled to centerfield with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth to send the Lady Pioneers over the top for the 9-8 win.
It was a district barnburner Thursday, as the Lady Pioneers (9-4, 6-0) remained undefeated staying atop the standings with the victory, despite a 5-1 early lead the Lady Golden Eagles held.
“I wasn’t worried. Our defense hasn’t been consistent all year. If we can eliminate the big innings, we’re a pretty good team,” said Warren County coach Gooby Martin. “I knew we could score some runs. I’m just proud of the girls for not quitting. They fought through the air, they fought through with minimal mistakes and we came out on top.”
Martin continued, “That’s one thing about this team. They get down but they stay in it. We used a lot of girls tonight. It was a team effort. I’m excited about that and I’m excited for these girls. It’s good to be 6-0 in the district and it was a big win for us. They’ve been a sore spot for us for the last three years I’ve been here so it’s a good win for us.”
The Lady Pioneers took a 1-run first inning lead on Rhea County, but the Lady Golden Eagles scored 5 runs in the top of the second off some big hits and defensive miscues, 5-1.
Warren County battled back with 3 runs in the bottom of the inning that began when Kyra Hillis hit a huge home run over the right-field fence, 5-3, that began the rally and Hailey Wood scored off an Emily Mikkola fly ball to left field, 5-4.
The Lady Pioneers forged ahead in the third inning after hits by Hillis and Maddie Cantrell scored three runs and a Pioneer lead they held until the top of the fifth.
Ashton Whiles earned the win for Warren County, throwing 2.3 innings with 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts and 0 walks. Cantrell opened the game for the Lady Pioneers, pitching for 4 innings with 8 runs, 11 hits and 1 walk.
The Lady Pioneers totaled 14 hits. Hillis went 3-for-3 with 1 homer and 3 RBIs, Mikkola (1 RBI), Neva Tackett (1 RBI), Cantrell (2 RBIs) and Whiles all garnered 2 hits apiece, and Wood (1 RBI), Hope Mullican and Lexie Cantrell each had 1 hit. Skyler Youngblood had 1 RBI.